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When night falls on Thursdays at the Museum, a group of people carrying sketchpads and charcoal enters the doors and heads to the animal halls. For over 30 years, Stephen C. Quinn, an artist in the Museum’s Exhibition Department and an expert on dioramas, has led a special evening course on Animal Drawingthat teaches students the art of drawing nature using the Museum’s famous dioramas and displays. This spring’s session will begin on Thursday, March 15. Below, Quinn answers a few questions about the course.
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This Thursday, February 16, scientists, writers, and educators will gather for a panel discussion of how social media change the landscape of science communication. Beyond a Trend: Enhancing Science Communication Through Social Mediawill feature Ruth Cohen, the Museum’s senior director of education strategic initiatives and director of the Center for Lifelong Learning, Carl Zimmer, science journalist and author of Science Ink: Tattoos of the Science Obsessed, Ben Lillie, co-organizer of The Story Collider, and BBC journalist Matt Danzicoas panelists. Jennifer Kingson, day assignment editor for the Science section of The New York Times, will moderate the discussion. Below, Cohen talks about a few of the Museum’s recent forays into social media.
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When science writer Carl Zimmer noticed some scientists sporting serious tattoos, he wondered how many others enjoyed highbrow body art. After posing the question on his blog, Zimmer received a flood of responses and photos, many of which he recently compiled in his book Science Ink: Tattoos of the Science Obsessed. On Thursday, February 16, Zimmer will be one of four panelists at the Museum’s Beyond a Trend: Enhancing Science Communication Through Social Media, part of Social Media Week NYC. Zimmer recently answered a few questions about how new media are shaping his writing.
What could you do with a blog about science tattoos that you couldn’t do in a book, and vice versa?
Carl Zimmer: Blogs and books are different media, with different strengths and weaknesses. With a blog, you can spontaneously add things and make corrections. And people can make comments. Sometimes, people would point out that the equation in someone’s tattoo had a plus sign instead of a minus, which was probably pretty embarrassing. But since the blog was happening in real time, it was more disorganized. For the book, I was able to create miniature essays for various tattoos and arrange the tattoos in a logical progression from math to physics to chemistry and so on.
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In honor of the approaching Valentine’s Day, the Museum will host food historian Francine Segan on Wednesday, February 8, for Aphrodisiacs: Myth or Reality?, featuring stories and tastings of foods considered to have seductive properties throughout time. Below, Segan unravels the histories behind a few food items thought to have a strong connection to passion.
Why were oysters, scallops, mussels, and other types of seafood hailed as aphrodisiacs?
Francine Segan: Aphrodisiacs were named for Aphrodite, the goddess of love. According to ancient Greek legend, Aphrodite was born from the sea and arrived onshore transported on either an oyster or scallop shell. So oysters and all sorts of shellfish were thought to be aphrodisiacs.